I love being able to work outdoors, do something different every day, and see different parts of the land base around me. I started the Forest Technology program in the fall of 2014, and have never worked in the forest industry prior to attending NAIT.
My first position in the forest industry was a silviculture assistant. I plan to finish the Forest Tech program at NAIT, and then continue my career with West Fraser.
I look forward to constantly learning new parts of the forest industry, developing new skills and getting challenged in my everyday work. Students can expect to be challenged every day, learn constantly and go home feeling satisfied with their work at the end of the day. Being able to work independently in all weather conditions and all types of terrain is an asset to a position with West Fraser.
Working with West Fraser is an awesome opportunity to learn, grow and develop lifelong skills in the many different areas in the industry. Every day is different, and everyday has different challenges. West Fraser makes it easy to be proud of your work, and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end of your day.
- Olivia Silviculture Summer Student
This past work-term has been the first time that I have been able to apply the concepts that I have been learning in school to real world problems and to really feel like I am making a difference.
It was crazy to go from knowing just about nothing about the pulp process and about project management to playing an important role in a safety project. The best part was probably getting to act as project manager alongside a professional electrical engineer and to be relied on for many of the key aspects of the project. Not only did I learn lots from seeing other engineers do their work but I was also encouraged to work on my own and to figure things out myself. The level of trust and respect I was able to earn bolstered my self-confidence and allowed me to excel. Even when I wasn’t excelling it was easy to ask for help. I could knock on any door, and if I did not get the answer I was looking then I would get advice on how to obtain it. Overall, the experience was very rewarding and I would recommend it to any electrical or mechanical student looking for a place to work and learn.
- Kyle Engineering summer student at Hinton Pulp
Although my placement was only four months long, my exposure to the Pulp industry at Hinton Pulp was unforgettable and technically enlightening. I was extremely lucky to have worked with experienced engineers who showed me how much there still was to learn, but who also trusted me to make impactful decisions.
Throughout my entire term, I was treated more like an engineer-in-training than a traditional co-op student. Hinton’s management listened to my ideas and everyone was supportive of my projects. My entire experience reminded me of my passions for engineering, and West Fraser’s dedication to safety, the environment, and production efficiency was very inspirational. As an added bonus, I explored the inside of a power boiler during a planned maintenance shutdown!
- Jason Engineering Co-op Student at Hinton Pulp
This past co-op term at Quesnel River Pulp (QRP) has been quite enjoyable. Everyone at QRP is approachable and willing to help however they can. A lot of the work I’ve done this term has allowed me to improve my project management skills by planning and supervising contracted jobs.
Unlike any of my previous work terms, I have been given the opportunity to work with the Electrical and Instrumentation department once a week to develop technical skills and build relationships. Additionally, when external courses were offered such as Arc Flash and High Voltage Safety Training I was offered the chance to participate. Where ever possible, my superiors have given me the chance to learn and develop skills that are applicable in any work setting. For this reason I am grateful to be working at QRP.
- Robb Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
I have thoroughly enjoyed my four month stay at Quesnel River Pulp, having had the opportunity to work with a fantastic group of people. While working here, I have had the opportunity to both manage and work on a variety of projects, both independently and as part of a group.
Throughout these projects, opportunities to learn and develop valuable engineering skills have been abundant. These are skills which I feel will be very beneficial throughout my engineering career. In addition to performing an engineering role, spending time working with the mechanical department has satisfied my need for hands-on work while providing valuable insight into the inner workings of the mill and its equipment. Working at QRP has provided a very well-rounded practical experience, as well as a very pleasurable and memorable one.
- Elijah Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
Working at Quesnel River Pulp for the summer was amazing. I learnt more in 4 months there than I thought was possible. I worked on projects, big and small, which enabled me to learn and be creative. I worked by myself and in a group of senior engineers, which taught me to be more confident in my own ideas.
In addition to working in the engineering department, I was able to help with other groups in the mill including the safety, mechanical and electrical departments. Everyone was always extremely helpful with any questions that I brought up. I would recommend a work term at Quesnel River Pulp to any student.
- Courtney Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
Working as an engineering summer student at Quesnel River Pulp (QRP) has been one of the best work terms I have done. Everyone here has been very friendly and helped foster my learning experience along the way.
Being at QRP during the start of many new capital projects has also given me a unique perspective on how newer technologies are being implemented to help optimize production. With my job I had the opportunity to spend one day a week working with different departments. This experience was probably the most valuable to me as I learnt that I enjoy tackling problems hands-on. To anyone looking to gain both practical and technical experience I think this is a great place to work.
- Brenden Engineering co-op student at Quesnel River Pulp
My experience at Slave Lake Pulp was outstanding. Every colleague was outgoing, easy to approach, and made coming to work enjoyable. From my experience I have learnt more than I was expecting to when I showed up 4 months ago.
My supervisor and the project team that I worked with have taught me many skills that I will use in not only my future work experiences, but also in everyday life. With the variety of tasks that I was assigned to complete, I have gained a great amount of knowledge in the engineering field. I can say that I am disappointed that my work term has ended so soon and that I have to go back to university. With the variety of office, plant, and field work that I participated in I believe that this term has set prepared me well for my future schooling and endeavors.
- Jason Engineering co-op student at Slave Lake Pulp
Working as a woodlands planning student for Chetwynd Forest Industries (CFI) has been the best and most valuable work experience that I’ve had.
During my 10 months with CFI I expanded my timber development field skills, completed many administrative and analytical tasks related to cutting permits and led a small timber development crew. The work environment is learning focused: every question is answered, personal strengths are expanded, the workload is dynamic and detail-focused. CFI’s structure granted me autonomy and variety in my work: both field and office projects with focuses on revenue, forest planning and environmental requirements. In addition to rewarding work, I was met by enthusiastic and experienced co-workers. I now feel like part of the family at the division. To anyone seeking a diverse and in-depth forestry experience I recommend Chetwynd Forest Industries.
- Dane Woodlands planning student
My 4-month work term at Slave Lake Pulp was an extremely awesome experience. I entered the workforce with zero knowledge and left with tremendous experience gained from my co-op work term.
Slave Lake Pulp offers both office and field experience and they are willing to provide opportunities for co-op students to learn things that interest them. My colleagues at the mill were the greatest people I've ever worked with thus far. They were very friendly and willing to help whenever I had questions. I gained much knowledge in both workplace skills and academically, that will definitely help in my future work placements and school terms. I highly recommend Slave Lake Pulp for any student looking for a co-op work placement or summer experience
- Yumiko Co-op
I gained experience throughout my degree program by working summers in different industries; fabrication, chemical waste treatment and pulp and paper.
As a grad, my first job was at a pulp mill in Kawerau, New Zealand. When I moved to Canada, I got a position at a biotech company. However, the lure of working on a large site led me apply for a job at Hinton Pulp. I knew the excitement of working in a pulp mill and I wanted to live close to the Rockies.
The variety of the work I do is what makes my job exciting. My day-to-day activities can range from emergency trouble-shooting of equipment or process issues, project management and process studies for new products, to control system configuration and tuning. I feel that the wide scope of operations within a kraft pulp mill enables me to gain experience with a wide range of equipment and systems.
A junior engineer working at Hinton Pulp is able to get involved with processes that aren’t available at many other industrial plants. Where else can you find a 9-story tall, high pressure, continuous reactor? I think West Fraser offers a wide range of career paths for young engineers. The people I have the opportunity to work with here in Hinton are energetic, supportive and make the job fun. What’s fantastic about my work is the opportunity to discover what I most enjoy working on and turn it into a career.
- Simon Process/DCS Engineer at Hinton Pulp
I don’t think my introduction to forestry is typical: I was tired of waiting tables, so one day I walked into West Fraser’s Chasm sawmill and told them I wanted to start working for them.
The first day on the job, I heard there was a course for lumber graders. I took it, did well on the exam and started as a lumber grader right away. That’s how I started in forestry!
A year later, I moved to Hinton and I started working at Hinton Wood Products. On my own initiative, I decided to get my 4th class power engineer certification while on maternity leave. When I returned to the mill I was able to move into a Power Engineer role and the mill ended up reimbursing my tuition, which I didn’t expect. I am not shy of hard work. My experience at West Fraser is that if you take the steps, do the hard work, earn it and prove yourself, there’s more opportunity than you realize.
For a number of years as a Power Engineer I ran the lumber kilns and then the mill’s energy system. An electrical apprenticeship opportunity came up and I decided to sign up for it. I know I have proved I can work hard and achieve what I set out to do. Now that I am apprenticing at the mill, I love that I feel like I am learning something new every shift.
When it gets right to it, the most important thing for me is my family. I’m a single mom so it’s sometimes tough to balance my education, shift work and volunteering as the head coach for my two boy’s hockey teams – but we manage. We sit down and do our homework together at the kitchen table! I like working at West Fraser and doing what I do because I can advance myself and still be there for my family.
- Veronica Apprentice Electrician
Being a part of the Green Dream Internship in its first year has been the opportunity of a lifetime. I’m walking away from this experience having gained numerous transferable workplace skills, exposure to different parts of Canada and an appreciation for the forestry industry.
Hopefully all those reading the Greenest Workforce Intern blogs realize like I do now, how exciting, engaging and promising the forestry industry of Canada really is. It’s an industry that seamlessly integrated a challenging and rewarding work environment with the opportunity to lead a relaxed lifestyle in some of the most beautiful regions of this great country.
- Mark Greenest Workforce "Green Dream" Intern at Slave Lake Pulp
My first co-op work term at Slave Lake Pulp was truly a great learning experience. The mill strongly emphasizes the importance of safety, which demonstrates the amount of care Slave Lake Pulp shows towards its employees.
New technologies are always being explored, which allows co-op students (like me) to be included in various projects. There is the opportunity to work both inside an industrial environment as well as an office environment, for multiple departments such as Technical, Operations, and Engineering. However, the most enjoyable aspect of my work term were the co-workers I spent four months with. They fostered a caring environment where my questions were encouraged, and each of them offered any help I needed regardless of how busy they were. The Town of Slave Lake itself is a closely-knit community, with numerous recreation centres and outdoor activities to unwind after a long day. I believe Slave Lake Pulp offered an opportunity for me that I would not have been able to receive anywhere else.
- Jasper Engineering Co-Op Student
I started as a lumber grader, working in the planer before I began my millwright apprenticeship at the Quesnel sawmill. I did my entire apprenticeship with West Fraser. Last year I was promoted to Weekend Maintenance Supervisor – a job that I really enjoy.
What I like the most about working here are the people that I get to work with every day. I have an incredible team of experienced and skilled millwrights that make even challenging days at the mill fun. I also supervise our 20 person weekend cleanup crew of people who are really excellent and who have as much as 30 years’ experience, which is really amazing for me.
In addition to the people see every day, I feel really fortunate to work on top-of-the-line equipment. I like to work for a mill that I think is ahead of the industry in safety, dust control, efficient production, great people and great equipment. I’m competitive. Working in this kind of high-performance production environment keeps me on my toes.
Why did I choose this career? I chose it because it offered me an opportunity to work in a great job and maintain an active lifestyle that allows me to spend time with my family. I work with a great crew and I am home every night to see my wife and kids. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
- Mike Weekend Maintenance Supervisor
Working as technical summer student at Slave Lake Pulp was an extremely valuable experience. I’ve lived in Slave Lake since Grade 7. I had heard of the pulp mill but never really understood what it encompassed.
When I started, I quickly realized everyone here contributes hard work and their spirit to the environment at the mill. They immediately made me feel welcome and provided me with so many great opportunities. Going into second year engineering, I feel that this summer job helped me to learn important skills including safety when working in an industrial environment and time management, which I will take with me through my future jobs. A dynamic and constantly changing work environment made Slave Lake Pulp an exciting and challenging place to work, giving me a comfortable level of responsibility while ensuring I had all the support and guidance I needed. To anyone who is looking for great summer experience, I would highly recommend Slave Lake Pulp.
- Jennifer Technical summer student
After I graduated from high school, my first job was in the wood energy industry as an operator. There I had a chance to see what the electricians were doing on site and I became very interested in pursuing the trade.
I started as an apprentice electrician in the “oil patch” for an oil and gas company in Northern Alberta and worked there for two and half years. The job was a lot of grunt work and long hours. I was worried about being stuck in a narrow position where I would not have an opportunity to learn the full spectrum of my trade. I decided to work in residential, and then commercial construction to round out my skills. In the last year of my apprenticeship, an opportunity came up at West Fraser’s Slave Lake Veneer mill and I jumped at the job. I am really glad I did.
At first, I was overwhelmed – but I feel like I have learned more at West Fraser in a few months than I learned in years at other jobs. At the beginning I planned on moving on from here after I stopped learning, but three years into this job I feel I have only learned a portion of what I am capable of. At Slave Lake Veneer I get to work with state-of-the-art technology. I am grateful for the support, patience and mentorship from my colleagues to continue to learn new skills. There are plenty of hands-on opportunities to improve my skills because we are always pushing the technology forward and experimenting to improve the operation of the mill.
Working in a veneer mill has been amazing for me. The people I work with are excellent and the broadness of what we deal with compared to other places I have worked is extraordinary. What I would like to tell other tradespeople considering working for West Fraser is that the opportunity to grow at this Company really never ends – and that is hard to find anywhere."
- Tony Electrical Charge Hand
Working at Slave Lake Pulp has been one of the best work experiences I have ever had. I have spent three summers working there. During that time I have gained tons of experience in the field of engineering.
The mill is very safety oriented and has a great safety training program which will prepare you for any industrial/construction job site in the future. The mill has a great work atmosphere filled with even better people, and is always moving forward, allowing students to be involved with new and exciting projects. If you enjoy the outdoors, Slave Lake will provide you with all the outdoor activities you can think of such as fishing, hiking, swimming, golf, etc. I highly recommend Slave Lake Pulp to any and all engineering students looking to gain experience and to work with some great people.
- Ryan Engineering Co-Op Student
My first 8-month co-op work term at Slave Lake Pulp. At first, I was nervous about what to expect as well as the idea of relocating to a small town. I was able to get accustomed to the workplace in no time, thanks to the help I have received from the other co-workers who were very friendly and willing to help.
I was very satisfied with my work experience at Slave Lake Pulp and in my opinion it is filled with very good learning opportunities all around. Now in my fourth year of chemical engineering and looking back at my time in Slave Lake, I realized I lacked a little on the initiative and missed out a bit on the technical learning opportunities available. However, with a little initiative and motivation, a work term at Slave Lake Pulp can become a great learning experience. I encourage any students in the Co-op program who are looking for a good experience in the manufacturing industry to try a work term or two at Slave Lake Pulp.
- Chris Co-Op Student
I'm a University of Alberta Forestry Grad and have now been working for West Fraser for over 12 years. My first summer of Forestry work experience was with West Fraser at Chetwynd Forest Industries.
I worked that summer as a Silviculture Assistant and gained field experience in a wide range of tasks. Following the completion of my forestry degree, I was given the opportunity to return to work at the Chetwynd division the following summer and fall as a Silviculture and Planning Assistant.
While working in Chetwynd, a permanent job opening came available at Blue Ridge Lumber - another division of West Fraser. I've been working at Blue Ridge Lumber since then as a Silviculture Supervisor, and recently as Silviculture Superintendent. I originally went into Forestry looking for a challenging career and the opportunity to live and work in the outdoors. West Fraser has provided me with excellent opportunities for building a career while also raising a family. My work experience has given me exposure to all aspects of the business and excellent advancement opportunities. I'm looking forward to many more successful years with the company.
- Shane Silviculture Superintendent